SANAA, Yemen – Fighting–between–Saudi-led coalition–forces–and–Yemen’s–Shiite rebels–has–flared–up–again–around–the–Red–Sea–port–city–of–Hodeida,–despite–U.N.–calls–for–a–cease-fire,–Yemeni–officials–and witnesses said Tuesday.
The escalation, which followed a lull that had–been in place since earlier this month, began late on–Monday with coalition–airstrikes hitting the rebels, known as Houthis, in and around–Hodeida. Street fighting was–also underway–in the main Khamsin–Str. in the city–center–and in al-Saleh–district. The officials–spoke about the–clashes on–condition of anonymity–because they–were not–authorized to talk to reporters; the witnesses–did so for fear–for their–safety.
Information–Minister–Moammer al-Iryani, who–is in–Yemen’s internationally recognized–government, said the–Houthis shelled the–city center and neighborhoods–held by government–forces. Meanwhile, the–rebel-run Al Masirah TV said the rebels–attacked–government–forces on a main road linking the capital, Sanaa, and Hodeida.–Government forces–had captured the–road in September.
Earlier, the rebels–said–they’d–fired a ballistic missile the–previous night into Saudi Arabia in response–to an attempted border–incursion and another–airstrike, and that they reserved the right to respond–to–attacks. The missile–came–hours after the rebels said they–would halt–all rocket–fire into Saudi Arabia for the sake of peace–efforts.
The–coalition has been–attempting to–retake Hodeida–from the rebels–since last summer, with its–forces–now 5–kilometers (3 miles)–from–the–port,–Yemen’s traditional lifeline.
The renewed–Hodeida–fighting undermines–the latest U.N. efforts–to end–the three-year–war. Martin–Griffiths, the U.N. envoy,–announced on–Friday–that–both sides had–agreed to attend–peace talks in–Sweden “soon.” Yemeni–officials had said the next round of talks–would take–place on Nov. 29.
The Yemeni government said Monday it would attend the talks but also insisted the Houthis do so “unconditionally.”
A U.N. draft resolution–circulated by Britain on Monday–urges the warring–parties to relaunch peace–talks and take urgent steps–to address the humanitarian–crisis. It also calls for an–immediate cease-fire–around Hodeida.
President and CEO of the International–Rescue Committee, David–Miliband, said Tuesday the draft resolution is “a vital diplomatic step and the–best–hope” toward a cease-fire and–though–only focused–on–Hodeida, “represents a critical development–following the–breakthrough call by–the U.S. government for a ceasefire in Yemen.”
The Trump administration–late in–October called–for an urgent halt to the war and negotiations aimed at–a–political settlement.
The U.S.-backed,–Saudi-led coalition has–been battling–the rebels on the side of Yemen’s internationally recognized government since–March 2015 in a war that has killed tens–of thousands–of people and pushed–much of the country to the brink of starvation.